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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

France riots: Teen’s death being used as ‘pretext for robbing’ in Marseille, says store owner | World News

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Franc Attali lost 100,000 euros (£86,000) in a night, his shop one of dozens in Marseille broken into by rioters.

“The store was full of merchandise, now it’s completely empty,” he says as he shows me around.

Be Weep is usually full of clothes and shoes. Now, the glass shelves have been stripped completely clean and the front window has been smashed in.

A bloody tissue, potentially used to wipe a rioter’s cuts after they broke the glass, sits balled up by the door.

Gangs rampaged through France’s second city throughout Friday night and into Saturday morning.

Their aim – seemingly theft and destruction. Their target – whatever they could get their hands on.

Franc’s store was hit twice. After clearing the shop floor on Friday evening, looters returned at 5am on Saturday and emptied out the downstairs stockroom.

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He believes protests which began over the death of a teenager shot by police have morphed into something else.

“The death of Nahel is very sad but it’s just pretext, a pretext for robbing shops,” he tells me.

From designer stores to independent shops, all are targets. As we pass a branch of Louis Vuitton, we see workmen boarding it up.

It doesn’t look damaged, but they clearly aren’t taking any chances.

A Louis Vuitton store in Marseille is boarded up amid rioting in France

More than 1,300 people were arrested during a fourth night of violent protests throughout the country following the death of 17-year-old Nahel Merzouk, who was shot by police during a traffic stop in a Paris suburb on Tuesday.

As well as the thefts, Friday’s unrest created an extra complication for the authorities after looters stole hunting rifles. Now, stolen guns are floating around the city along with stolen goods.

One Marseille resident, a mother called Jenny, tells Sky News she blames the government for the unrest. She believes a lack of opportunities, poverty and the ghettoization of Marseille’s migrant population have stoked the anger.

Franc Attali's shop Be Weep in Marseille has been targeted by looters during riots. Pic: Jessica Sestili
Pic: Jessica Sestili

“The government has done everything to arrive at this because they put all these young people and their parents in the “cité” [estates] and after, they are not happy, so they want to come here and break everything.”

Jenny says she is expecting a re-run of the violence throughout the weekend.

To deal with this, public transport is being stopped at 6pm, car parks are being closed and extra police and armoured trucks have been sent in as reinforcements.

But for some, these are simply political sticking plasters. They may halt the violence – but won’t heal France’s deeper social wounds.

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